Memorial Sites And The Affective Dynamics Of Historical Experience In Berlin And Tokyo
Despite having undergone similar experiences of warfare and facing similar anxieties about the future, Germany and Japan evolved divergent responses to commemorating the Second World War over the course of the postwar period. This dissertation explores how different cultures and generational cohorts respond to the challenges of commemorating violent and traumatic pasts in response to shifting domestic concerns and to post-Cold War international geopolitical transformations. Four recently completed or revamped memorial sites form the backdrop of the discussion and provide insights into the politics of memory in postwar Germany and Japan: the Topography of Terror (2010) and the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe (2005) in Berlin; and the Yûshûkan (2002) and the Shôwakan (1999) in Tokyo. Over the course of the 'memory boom' of the 1980s and 1990s, debates about both the architectural expression of a museum or monument and the contents to be exhibited within the confines of the museum became lightning rods for public perceptions about the past in the present. As an affectively-charged place within the urban fabric, the memorial site, consisting of its intermingling of image and text installed in a visual narrative unfolding in space, offers a unique perspective from which to explore the performative dimensions of national identity formation. A key question this dissertation seeks to answer is how individuals are affected by their encounters with images, captions, and media that constitute museal representations of past events - in short, how affective dynamics undergird and influence the visitor's aesthetic experience of memorial sites. Central to this relationship between aesthetics, affect, and experience manifested in museal display is authenticity. Through the lens of comparison, this dissertation contributes an understanding of how the curators, activists, trustees, and politicians involved with the fashioning of memorial sites use (and sometimes abuse) the discourse of authenticity to produce an experience of the past in line with a particular conception of national identity, and how visiting publics respond to these representations of the past.
Modern German and Japanese History; Cultural and Visual Studies; Museums and Memorial Sites
Lacapra, Dominick C
Koschmann, Julien Victor; Sakai, Naoki; Hull, Isabel Virginia
Ph. D., History
Doctor of Philosophy
dissertation or thesis